July 13th, 2009
07:25 PM ET
13 years ago

Clinton: Vetting process for administration jobs 'a nightmare'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/13/art.hrchand0713.gi.jpg caption="Secretary of State Clinton spoke out Monday about the Obama administration's rigorous vetting process."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton showed a rare flash of frustration Monday - calling the vetting process for Obama administration nominees "ridiculous" and "a nightmare."

At a question-and-answer session with staff from the U.S. Agency for International Development, a woman asked her when the agency would be getting a new administrator and "why it's taking so long."

"Let me say it's not for lack of trying," Clinton replied. "The process - the clearance and vetting process - is a nightmare," she told the staff. "It takes far longer than any of us would want to see. It is frustrating beyond words."

The secretary said she "pushed very hard last week, when I knew I was coming here, to get permission from the White House to be able to tell you that help is on the way and somebody will be nominated shortly." But, she said, "the message came back, 'We're not ready.'"

"Anyone who has gone through it or looked at this process will tell you that every administration it gets worse," she added.

"Some very good people just didn't want to be vetted," she explained. "You have to hire lawyers, you have to hire accountants. I mean, it is ridiculous!"

Drawing laughs from the crowd, Clinton said, "And then here's one of the questions you get asked: First of all, you have to remember everywhere you've lived since you were 18. And, beyond a certain age you can't even remember when you were 18!"

One of her "all-time favorite questions," she said, is, "Please tell us every foreign national you know."

"I mean, some people who are of different ancestry, they're a hyphenated American and they have family still living in other countries, finally said it's ridiculous. I mean, I have lots of cousins I've never met. You're going to ask me to put their names down so they can all be interviewed? That's ridiculous!

"You're sensing my frustration!" Clinton sighed.

Filed under: Extra • Hillary Clinton • Obama administration • Popular Posts
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. Milton

    Hillary is showing she is still pissed about losing the democratic nomination. Get over it Hillary!!!

    July 13, 2009 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  2. Susan

    I agree with Seth in Jacksonville - ya can't have it both ways! I'd rather see competent and properly vetted folks than listening to the mocking that occurs if someone stumped their toe twenty years ago and it wasn't reported.

    July 13, 2009 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  3. Chad

    If they didn't some republican leaning blood hound would sniff dirt and use it agaist Obama in a New York minute. The same would happen if the talbes were turned. I bet you McCain wishes he would have "vetted" Sarah Palin a little more before he chose that disaster.

    July 13, 2009 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  4. James

    Duh. I hope she sticks around. Regardless of whatever you personally think of Hillary, the woman can get the job done. I truly hope she succeeds Obama and puts this country BACK TO WORK and cuts through this huge government mess.

    July 13, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  5. Joe in NJ

    Maybe it's because Obama and his administration don't have a clue who to pick or how to do it.

    July 13, 2009 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  6. Scully

    Hmmm. No.

    The correct answer is to live your life honestly and uprightly. Admit your mistakes. Have a higher goal. And move forward.

    I would personally have no problem with being vetted. (Is that a word?). Politicians have brought this on themselves. And the President knows this. In my view, he wants to move to a higher plane. We should support this from both sides of the aisle.

    July 13, 2009 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  7. Steve in NYC

    They know who is liberal and who is not, what is the big deal?

    July 13, 2009 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  8. biblemike

    The Congress caused this when they began the "nannygate" nonsense in the 80s. Hillary and Bill are just as much at fault for this, but the big blame is on the Republicans under Newt Gingrich who accelerated the process to such extremes that no one cann afford to vie for an appointed office unless the are as perfect as Christ or as devious as Mata Hari in hiding their past. things need to change, but they won't as long as we, the American people, continue to accept character assasination as part of the political process.

    July 13, 2009 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  9. Mike in NY

    Shut up Hillary.

    July 13, 2009 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  10. Rebecca

    As usual, the headline is misleading. Hillary is not criticizing Obama - She's criticizing the process. It would have been no different if she were in charge.

    July 13, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  11. Belva

    I hope the people who voted for the idiot are happy now – they made their bed and now we all have to lay in it. He is inexperienced and is leading our country down a path we will never recover from in our lifetime if people don't wake up.

    July 13, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  12. babs in cali

    @ Seth in jacsonville, FL – you're right. There is just no way to make everyone happy. I, for one, would rather have a vetting process that's a "nightmare" than hear the grim news after the fact that there is a "dirty little secret". that just gives people with nothing to do more ammo to blast the white house with.
    better safe than sorry, I guess.

    July 13, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  13. CT Man

    yea all that vetting...I wonder how much they're vetting the bailout packages and why nothing has really changed. Could they be "vetting" the money too?

    July 13, 2009 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  14. Dennis in Scottsdale, AZ

    you reap what you sow!

    July 13, 2009 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  15. Sandra Day

    I heart Hillary, but I would imagine the Obama administration does not want a Palin-like episode re: the vetting process. No matter how you feel about Palin, you have to admit she was not well vetted. All sorts of secrets and more came out after the fact. Some Palin faired well with and some she did not. Either way, you might as well put people through the ringer with the vetting process because the press and the public will probably go at 'em 10 fold.

    July 13, 2009 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  16. Citizen

    OMG will the Clintons ever STOP WHINING????

    July 13, 2009 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  17. Chris

    Good to see that some folks try to get some info on their people before putting them in positions of power!

    July 13, 2009 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  18. Ndidi Og.

    There is nothing wrong with vetting a candidate. But the Republicans has given vetting a new meaning. Lets VET them out of office beginning with ERIC CANTOR of VIRGINIA.....

    July 13, 2009 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  19. double red

    So you can't be a BIGGER cheat than OBAMA.....
    When do we find ....and get to SEE the Birth Certificate......he hid from us....He is not our PRESIDENT!!!!!!!
    We know he lied and cheated us....that is why they are spending
    us to death, and having parties and travels, and chothes that will choke a horse....
    They may get booted out soon??????? Lets see the goods!!!!!
    Who will spill the long awated beans.....REWARDS are offered.....

    July 13, 2009 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  20. richard

    I never thought I would respond to any of this blog stuff but.....when will America wake up? I have always voted Republican but I think Hillary may be on to something as are other Democrats. Does anyone think that our government knows what they are doing? A ONE TRILLION dollar deficit!!! A constantly changing position by our President!!!! Why is it so important that a health care bill be passed by August 1? This legislation will affect us the rest of our lives. Is the deadline really important? I do not think that the Republicans did do any better nor can they if the best they can do is Sarah Palin. Who would you vote for right now today? Tell me somebody that is a real leader.

    July 13, 2009 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  21. Terrell Prude' Jr.

    Lay off of Obama on this unless you're going to criticize every other recent President, too. Bush did it, Bill Clinton did it, HRC would've done it if she'd made President. Barack Obama is President of the United States. Get over that fact and get on with life.

    Now, that said, I do believe that's why the Bill Gateses and Warren Buffetts of the world don't run for political office. There's just too much hassle. There's just too much of your private life that gets thrown out there. It does turn away very good people. HRC makes a very good point here on the process in general of being in politics. It *is* nuts.

    There was a day when you appointed or nominated people that were simply very good at the job. They didn't have to be members of your specific club/party. Look at how Gov. Brian Schweitzer of Montana did it. His Lieutenant Governor is a Republican! Why? Maybe Lt. Gov. Bohlinger is...good at the job? Wow...what a concept!


    July 13, 2009 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  22. Stefano

    Your headline for this little blurb is misleading and bad reporting. "Ticker: Obama process 'ridiculous,' Clinton says"
    Although she criticizes "the process" , I do believe she is quite clear in meaning the governmental process, which, is something every president goes through as later stated in the line "...that every administration it gets worse,". I know you are about getting people to read these things as if it were news because you have to fill the pockets of the corporate thieves who pay you, but don't you think there is still some reason to try to have some journalistic integrity.

    And Red, honestly, if you believe that mid level corporate managers have more or better skills than a community organizer than you truly misunderstand the point of the Democratic American process which is based on representing COMMUNITIES, not corporate greedy boardrooms!

    July 13, 2009 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  23. concerned

    We should blame this on the way people are viciously vetted in the public sphere. With the current climate and the republican party of NO stance nominees have to be beyond reproach. Especially, it seems if they are a minority (woman, person of color, LGBT etc) because they are dragged through the mud, even with stellar credentials and character.
    The process does suck even for less high profile jobs but until people's lives are not scrutinized in these confirmation hearings the way they are I suspect the process will continue to be unduly frustrating.

    July 13, 2009 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  24. marua

    only if obama and congress went through the same rigorous vetting when drafting the infamous stimulus bill. Now it's health care...god help us!

    July 13, 2009 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  25. Elizabeth

    Obama is not a joke. This person who said so is a joke.

    But really, who cares.

    July 13, 2009 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
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